1769

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The Contest to Nourish Man

Rain and snow out of season have played havoc with crops in eastern France. This has led to food shortages and in particular... bread shortages. Remember that bread is considered one of the essentials like water and shelter. About 50% of one's income goes to buying bread. Thus, when there is a shortfall or crop failure, the price of bread goes through the roof. It's been happening so regularly that a guy can never get ahead. In order to solve this problem, one of the eastern cities puts on a contest to generate new food ideas. A fellow named Parmentier wins with the potato. He got the idea after being forced to eat potatoes as a prison-of-war. Currently, cultivating potatoes is illegal in France because it is thought to cause disease. Parmentier is going to turn that attitude around, and a lot more. [1] [2]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Anger over bread shortages was a concern to the French aristocracy. It was not a fear of being overthrown, but they felt a duty to keep order so that their children had something left that was worth ruling over. The peasantry speculated that the aristocracy had been hording grain to drive up the price. "Let them eat cake!" had been the rumored response of the French aristocrats. (It is unlikely any of them said it. They were not fools.) Certainly, Marie Antoinette never said it. Benjamin Franklin maintained an experimental potato patch while he was in France. He had it guarded as if the potatoes were the most valuable crop in the world. He then withdrew the guards at night allowing the poor to "steal" his potatoes. It wasn't until the population was starving that they finally adopted the potato. In later years Parmentier promoted the sweet potato, and the Jerusalem artichoke. When he died, his grave was surrounded by potato plants. [3]

The Privileges of a Princess, a King and a President

Antoinette is the young daughter of the Holy Roman Empress, Marie Teressa. Antoinette received a proposal of marriage from the young Mozart. The insolence of a commoner was forgiven because of his excellent musical performance and frankly, protocol was fairly loose in the court of the Empress. However, Marie Teressa is coldly calculating in marrying off her children to secure political alliances. Her most important scheming is bent toward marrying off Antoinette to the heir apparent of France... the future King Louis 16th (The Desirable). The hope of the Empress is to control France through her daughter. The proposal finally comes through this year and by next year the couple will be married. Antoinette is all of 14 years old. She will be known as Marie Antoinette in France. [4]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Yes. Marie Antoinette was a kid. Their marriage started off poorly because her new husband, the Prince, was timid if you know what I mean. His father, King Louis the 15th, was so concerned, he personally examined the Prince. (I'm not sure what the King was looking for but apparently the Prince looked normal.) After a few years the couple were able to procreate, and my sense is that they liked each other... mostly. When the Prince became King Louis the 16th he tried his best to live up to expectations, but frankly, he didn't think he deserved to be king. He preferred to work with his hands. Commoners were amazed when he told them he was the king. He seemed so... normal. Marie Antoinette was also approachable, but make no mistake. They both felt a strong duty to maintain the monarchy as an institution. In the modern day the President of the United States has acquired a great deal of power when compared to the original powers granted by the Constitution. President George W. Bush said that he had a duty to the office to maintain the executive privileges of the Presidency not only for himself but for those who will come after him. [5]

The Virginia Assembly is Hereby Dissolved

After the imposition of the Townshend Acts, Samuel Adams sent out a circular letter (like a "circular" in the modern day but more official) to all the colonial legislatures asking for support in protesting these illegal and inappropriate Acts and asking for King George the 3rd to rescind them. When the Secretary of State for the Colonies demanded that the circular letter be revoked, the General Court of Massachusetts deadlocked on the issue, 69 to 69 so the Massachusetts governor (a King's man) dissolved the court, and called British troops into Boston to quell the riots. Now the Virginia House of Burgesses (their legislature) have passed several resolutions in support of Massachusetts. This has infuriated the Virginia governor (a King's man) and he dissolves the assembly of the Virginia House of Burgesses whose membership includes Thomas Jefferson and George Washington. No worries, though. Most of the real politics gets done in the taverns anyway. (Really.) [6] [7] [8]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
The British troops that Massachusetts Governor Bernard called in to stop the Boston riots were the same ones that took part in the Boston Massacre in 1770. Also, it is not often cited, so I'll point it out now. There was bad blood (I mean it was really personal) between Samuel Adams and Lt. Governor Thomas Hutchinson. After Governor Bernard was recalled to England, Hutchinson was left in charge... and shucks! Suddenly, the Boston Massacre just happens, prompted by Samuel Adam's taunts, more than likely. And guess who will own a major share in that consignment of tea that ends up in Boston Harbor a few years later? That would be Thomas Hutchinson with one of the "Indians" looking suspiciously like Samuel Adams. It wasn't all political or even principled. Some of it was deeply personal. Samuel Adams did not forget a grudge and it was tough keeping the lid on him after the Revolution. The same with Thomas Payne. [9]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1769, Wikipedia.

See Also

References

  1. 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created. Knopf. ISBN 9780307265722. “When unseasonable rain and snow in 1769 and 1770 led to crop failures in parts of eastern France, a local academy announced a competition for 'Plants that Could in Times of Scarcity be Substituted for Regular Food to Nourish Man.' Five of the seven entries touted the potato. Parmentier's essay, the most impassioned and well documented, won the competition. It was the beginning of his career as a potato activist.” 
  2. Antoine-Augustin Parmentier - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 18 April 2016. “Antoine-Augustin Parmentier (Montdidier August 12, 1737 – December 13, 1813) is remembered as a vocal promoter of the potato as a food source for humans in France and throughout Europe. His many other contributions to nutrition and health included establishing the first mandatory smallpox vaccination campaign (under Napoleon beginning in 1805, when he was Inspector-General of the Health Service) and pioneering the extraction of sugar from sugar beets. Parmentier also founded a school of breadmaking, and studied methods of conserving food, including refrigeration.”
  3. Fraser, Antonia. Marie Antoinette. N.A. Talese/Doubleday. ISBN 038548948X. 
  4. Lever, Evelyne. Marie Antoinette: The Last Queen of France. Farrar Straus Giroux. ISBN 9780374199388. 
  5. Alex Shrugged notes: This all comes from my memory. I am glad to be corrected, but I think I am correct.
  6. Townshend Acts of 1767. landofthebrave.info (2016). Retrieved on 19 April 2016. “The Virginia Resolves of 1769 were resolutions passed by the Virginia House of Burgesses. Parliament had asked the king to have colonists, accused of certain crimes including treason, brought to England for trial. The Virginia Resolves of 1769 asserted that: No colonist should to be sent to England for trial Only the colonists had the right to tax the colonists The colonists had the right to petition either by themselves or with the people of other colonies”
  7. Grun, Bernard. The Timetables of History: A Horizontal Linkage of People and Events. Simon and Schuster, 356-357. 
  8. Resolves of the House of Burgesses, Passed the 16th of May, 1769. Encyclopedia Virginia.org (1769). Retrieved on 19 April 2016. “A resolution passed in secret session by the House of Burgesses on May 16, 1769, directly challenges Parliament's right to tax the people of Virginia”
  9. Thomas Hutchinson (governor) - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 19 April 2016. “In Massachusetts the arrival of ships carrying tea in November 1773 brought about a crisis, since duties were to be paid on dutiable cargo within twenty days of a ship's arrival. Hutchinson and his sons were among the businessmen to whom the company had consigned its tea, although Hutchinson disclaimed any official role in the choice of consignee. Other cargo was unloaded from the ships, but armed protestors patrolled the docks to ensure the tea was not landed. Hutchinson took a hard line, refusing to allow the tea ships to leave the harbour despite city-wide protests that the tea be sent back to England, and insisting that the duty be paid and the tea landed. When the twenty-day deadline arrived on 16 December, protestors (some in Indian disguise) boarded the ships that night and dumped the tea into the harbour.”

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